Last night, in the heart of Wynwood, just steps away from the Rubell Collection warehouse, I found myself standing in trailer trash. The ripe pungent odor of the preserved, petrified dumpster food that formed part of Luis Adelantado art studio’s Vice exhibit was absolutely breathtaking. So much so that I had to hold my nose to keep myself from vomiting all over this ode to human refuse. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t understand the artistic value in nailing chicken tenders to a wall and hanging Ziploc bags filled with stale Burger King French fries and partially eaten Wendy’s burgers from a ceiling. This is what Oscar the Grouch would do if he went on 24-hour crack smoking binge.
Soon, I bailed to another pre-Art Basel affair taking place just a few blocks away at Midtown Miami. Dozens of well-heeled art lovers in snazzy duds trickled through the glass door entrance of the temporary white tent that houses Photo Miami. The first indicator that I had moved up a rung in the Art Basel social ladder was the black-tied waiter serving bottles of Grolsch beer from a silver tray. Now that’s classy with a capital K. I took a pass on the hor d’ourves (including some gelatinous concoction resembling ketchup topped with mayonnaise) -- I had brought my own condiment packets for sustenance. A waitress informed it was some sort of Russian dish which I can’t pronounce, much less spell. However, I overheard several guests marveling at its deliciousness.
Amid the thousands of photographs on display, I found a few that I’d hang on my living room wall. One black-and-white by photographer Livia Corona caught my eye. Hermanos Virgen featured three stumpy Mexican circus acrobat brothers standing in front of a pick-up truck. The shirtless urchins’ heads barely made it past the top of the truck’s hood. And if you looked closely at the sibling in the middle, you couldn’t help but notice the bulge in his crotch. At $3,300, definitely a conversation piece.
I also fancied the work of Marcos López, whose pieces were on display in Madrid’s Galeria Fernando Pradilla booth. The images were rich in color, clean in texture, and tops in shock value, especially Luchadores Mexicanos and La Terraza. A few minutes later, I found myself transfixed by a pair of old blue eyes hiding behind a black mask. It was a Harry Benson photo of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra and his then-paramour Mia Farrow on their way to a black tie costume ball.
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Wandering the aisles, it was easy to see Art Basel was in full swing, as dozens of men paraded around fashion ensembles they could only get away with in a sea of whimsical art. One bespectacled gray-haired dude channeled What Not To Wear’s Clinton Kelly with his two-piece purple plaid suit and solid purple button down shirt. Bar none, he was the hippest looking gent in the tent. The same couldn’t be said for a hulky bearded fellow with nappy dreads who decided it would look cool to wear a pair of shiny lime green and red pattern pants, a red-and-white checkered long-sleeve guayabera and pointy white dress shoes. I guess he was celebrating Chango’s birthday.
A few blocks north, inside the Mooi furniture boutique’s party, shop owner and real estate investor Jeff Morr gave the Photo Miami fashionistas a run for their money. Holding court among his chic guests, Morr was hard to miss, dressed in a daring brown paisley Dolce & Gabbana sports jacket layered with a Hugo Boss t-shirt and brown pants from H&M. For a dash of contrast, Morr wore white snakeskin leather boots by Sebastian Migliore. “I’m a fashion freak,” Morr said without a hint of modesty. “I have a closet that is 20 feet long.”
That would explain why one of his store items is a life-size replica of a horse with a lamp on its head. Only a freak like him would buy it. Francisco Alvarado